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Unveiled Senate bill aims to cut veteran wait times by years

Unveiled Senate bill aims to cut veteran wait times by years
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Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonQAnon-promoter Marjorie Taylor Greene endorses Kelly Loeffler in Georgia Senate bid Biden up by 7 points in Georgia: survey Loeffler tweets edited video showing Trump taking down coronavirus in wrestling match MORE (R-Ga.) on Wednesday introduced a bill designed to cut years off wait times for veterans who are seeking federal benefits.

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act “would create three separate paths for veterans to choose from if they are not satisfied with the initial decision made by the Veterans Benefits Administration on their claims for VA benefits,” according to the statement announcing the legislation.

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The bill would allow select veterans already going through the appeals process to transfer into the new system.

Isakson, the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee chairman, outlined the three paths in a one-page summary of the bill.

Veterans currently have an average five-year wait if they appeal a decision, drawing criticism that the Department of Veterans Affairs is using an outdated review process. Lawmakers said they want that wait time to be reduced to 125 days.

"Between fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2017, the number of pending appeals increased from approximately 380,000 to 470,000 — a more than 20 percent increase,” the statement reads.

The committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterOvernight Energy: Barrett punts on climate, oil industry recusals | Ex-EPA official claims retaliation in lawsuit | Dems seek to uphold ruling ousting Pendley Democrats seek to block appeal of court ruling ousting Pendley, BLM land plans House Republicans push VA for details on recent data breach MORE (Mont.), and member Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) co-sponsored the bill.

The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee has separate draft legislation that also seeks to improve the VA benefits appeal process.